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Spies, Patriots, and Traitors

American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War

Kenneth A. Daigler

Publication Year: 2014

Students and enthusiasts of American history are familiar with the Revolutionary War spies Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold, but few studies have closely examined the wider intelligence efforts that enabled the colonies to gain their independence. Spies, Patriots, and Traitors provides readers with a fascinating, well-documented, and highly readable account of American intelligence activities during the era of the Revolutionary War, from 1765 to 1783, while describing the intelligence sources and methods used and how our Founding Fathers learned and practiced their intelligence role.

The author, a retired CIA officer, provides insights into these events from an intelligence professional's perspective, highlighting the tradecraft of intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert actions and relating how many of the principles of the era's intelligence practice are still relevant today. Daigler reveals the intelligence activities of famous personalities such as Samuel Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, John Jay, and Benedict Arnold, as well as many less well-known figures. He examines the important role of intelligence in key theaters of military operations, such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in General Nathanael Greene's campaign in South Carolina; the role of African Americans in the era's intelligence activities; undertakings of networks such as the Culper Ring; and intelligence efforts and paramilitary actions conducted abroad.

Spies, Patriots, and Traitors adds a new dimension to our understanding of the American Revolution. The book's scrutiny of the tradecraft and management of Revolutionary War intelligence activities will be of interest to students, scholars, intelligence professionals, and anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating era of American history.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

...Completion of a study this broad would have been impossible without the assistance of researchers and librarians at numerous facilities across the country. I was constantly amazed at the interest and initiative taken by these people, including at local historical societies...

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pp. xiii-xviii

...rooms for use with foreign intelligence liaison visitors to the headquarters complex. In assessing the requirements for this effort, I learned that many foreign intelligence services, especially those having been in existence for centuries in one form or another, often looked upon...

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Chapter 1: George Washington Learns the Intelligence Trade

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pp. 1-15

...he functioned as the senior intelligence officer for the Continental Army, as well as being its prime intelligence consumer. With both these responsibilities, he was able to direct his collection efforts on what he wanted and needed to know, rather than what could readily be collected...

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Chapter 2: The United Front Campaign That Led to the American Revolution

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pp. 16-42

...accuracy to this. However, lost in this scene is the reality that the organization was the eighteenth-century equivalent of a united front used by radical Founding Fathers for their successful political action campaign against the British authorities in the American colonies. This united front campaign, at first loosely directed but...

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Chapter 3: The Intelligence War Begins

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pp. 43-61

...Boston, both the American colonial leaders and the British civilian and military leaders knew that armed conflict was not far away. And they had each begun to establish the basic infrastructure necessary to collect on the plans, intentions, and capabilities of their anticipated enemy...

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Chapter 4: Covert Action in Europe Leading to the French Alliance

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pp. 62-92

...conflicts with France and to a lesser degree Spain. European support for the Revolution, once again particularly French, was of significant importance to an American victory. This aid was motivated not by any great commitment to American independence or the concept of political...

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Chapter 5: Nathan Hale and the British Occupation of New York City

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pp. 93-110

...constructing fortifications and developing a plan for its defense. In addition to only the poorly armed and trained militia, Lee also had little in the way of artillery and nothing capable of stopping British naval ships from controlling the sea lanes around the city. The geographical...

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Chapter 6: John Jay’s Efforts at Counterintelligence

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pp. 111-125

...led to American independence from Britain. This view of individual rights continues to this day to be one of the strongest characteristics of American national culture. And in societies where such views are held, the intelligence discipline of counterintelligence is always the most controversial and difficult...

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Chapter 7: Washington Establishes His Intelligence Capabilities

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pp. 126-144

...York City area by a series of British attacks. By mid-summer, the Continental Army had been forced off Long Island and was pushed into lower Manhattan. In mid-September, Washington was able to momentarily stop the British advance at the Battle of Harlem Heights. But not for long...

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Chapter 8: Benedict Arnold: Hero Turned Traitor

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pp. 145-170

...best-known traitor. Treason is the only crime defined in the United States Constitution, and his actions might be the reason why. After George Washington, Arnold’s name is one of the best remembered from the Revolutionary War. His name and story are much more familiar to most than that...

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Chapter 9: American Intelligence Activities Reach Maturity

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pp. 171-194

...the Royal Navy, which could ensure resupply of both men and equipment from Canada and Great Britain for the British army. Also, the navy could use the port as a base to patrol the American coastal areas. This gave the British military superior lines of communication for the deployment...

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Chapter 10: Nathanael Greene and Intelligence in the Southern Campaign

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pp. 195-213

...at Saratoga in October 1777, British strategy began to shift to the South. The British government believed that a majority of the people in the southern colonies were loyalists and could be motivated to join regular British army forces in creating a British government structure there...

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Chapter 11: Yorktown and the Endgame

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pp. 214-231

...Southern Army. He moved his forces into Virginia in late April to link up with other British forces there. Soon after his arrival, he received a request from his commander, General Clinton in New York City, to send three thousand of his troops back to the city to bolster its defenses. This request, and subsequent decisions that created confusion between the two officers...

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Chapter 12: The African American Role in American Intelligence Activities

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pp. 232-240

...most obvious issue is racial prejudice during that period and up through at least the civil rights era. Many of the individuals who acted either as intelligence collectors or provided support roles, such as couriers, were slaves or servants of others. Thus their masters often received the official...

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Chapter 13: Conclusion

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pp. 241-248

...enabled the Continental Army to remain in the field until a formal alliance could be negotiated. Covert action, consisting of political action, propaganda, and paramilitary activities, played a significant role in convincing the French of the determination of the colonies to win their independence...

Appendix: Timeline of Revolution-Era Events

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pp. 249-256


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pp. 257-282

Glossary of Tradecraft Terms

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pp. 283-288


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pp. 289-298


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pp. 299-317

E-ISBN-13: 9781626160514
E-ISBN-10: 1626160511

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 22 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2014